We all want it: the well-trained, defined body that you can not only show off in summer. Something you feel good about and proud of. It's proof of the discipline and will you put into your training and nutrition. And, although you probably can't hear/read the following sentence anymore: strength training itself is only half (if not only ¼) of the battle. Without the right diet, you can lift as many weights as you want. The training just wouldn't be worth it.
An important factor in training is, among other things, eating after working out. The answer to the question of what to eat after a workout could probably fill entire books. It should be clear that it shouldn't be the creamy sundae or lots of beer. Nevertheless, countless questions remain unanswered: If carbohydrates, should they be long- or short-chain? Are fats okay? And what about proteins? They are known to be the muscle nutrients and important for building muscle?
No post workout meal is the wrong approach
Anyone who has sporting ambitions is usually not satisfied with just one goal to be achieved. Not only do you want to lose weight, but you also want to lose a lot of weight in the shortest possible time. You don't just want to build muscles, you also want to have them defined directly. The fallacy is obvious: “I just eat less! And I don't even have to worry about which post-workout meal to eat if I just skip the post-workout meal.” Which, at first glance, makes sense for some (admittedly probably inexperienced) athletes sounds tempting inside is fatal. Because especially after training, your body needs food for regeneration, muscle building, to absorb nutrients and to refill the energy stores after the workout.
Just imagine the following scenario: You did an intensive cardio class at the gym - kickboxing, HIIT, spinning... - and then, because it wasn't enough for you, did an ab workout. Your sports clothes are soaked with sweat and your heart is pumping. You feel good, but also tired - no wonder when you look at what your body does when you exercise: Your heart transports blood faster because you need more oxygen. Accordingly, the muscles are better supplied with blood and nutrients. Our cells produce a lot of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which provides energy and is produced with the help of carbohydrates. At the same time, happiness hormones are released, you lose electrolytes...
The energy for these processes comes from carbohydrates, which the body stores in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen. These depots have to be replenished through nutrition and the body cannot do this alone. If you don't eat anything after training, your body tries to produce carbohydrates itself by breaking down amino acids (amino acids are the building blocks of our muscles!). Since muscle loss should be exactly the opposite of our goal, the only sensible solution is: eat after exercise!
What post-workout food and what nutrients does my body need after exercise?
Of course, the workout you just completed should not be a free ticket for plenty of carbohydrates, fast food or alcohol. Anyone who wants to build muscle but goes on a bar crawl after training destroys the success of their training by consuming too many calories and too much unhealthy sugar. Even the greasy pizza is not exactly conducive to muscle building and defined beach bodies. The situation is different with the notorious banana right after training. Glycogen production is now at its most effective and the short-chain carbohydrates in a banana can be absorbed relatively quickly immediately after training. Even if you're not hungry after your workout, you should at least eat a small post-workout snack (like a bar).
60-120 minutes after training is time for the "right" post-workout meal. About 60% of these should be complex carbohydrates. They provide long-term energy and prevent food cravings. Wholemeal bread or pasta, (sweet) potatoes, (natural) rice, quinoa or bulgur are the perfect basis for your post-exercise meal.
Electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium or potassium are less important, but of course not to be neglected. When you sweat a lot, your body also sheds these minerals through your skin (that's why our sweat tastes salty). They ensure that the acid-base balance and nerve and muscle functions are regulated. These include peanuts, raisins or green vegetables. Fats are also not the most important nutrient when it comes to what to eat after a workout. Although digestion is slowed down by fats, nutrient absorption still occurs.
Attention, important: Eat with enough protein after exercise!
"Should I eat before or after exercise?" You may have asked yourself this question before. Let's get to the bottom of this. Eating BEFORE training, especially shortly before, has disadvantages rather than advantages. Of course, you should only drink drinks during training, eating here would also be rather disadvantageous. After that, however, you should strike! We should create plenty of space on our post-workout plate not only for carbohydrates, but also for proteins. As a result of training, microtears form in the muscles. This signals to the muscles: "You are not up to these stimuli! Better prepare for the next strain!” Essential for this: proteins. They favor regeneration, stimulate the repair processes of cracks and help build muscle. Biological value plays a major role in this. It indicates how well the proteins we eat can be converted into endogenous proteins (read: muscles).
A chicken egg has the best quality with a biological value of 100. Beef is 80. Foods such as poultry (70), ham (76) or tuna (83) are also good sources of protein. If you eat vegetarian/vegan, you can cover your protein requirements just as well: Potatoes score with a biological value of 86, and beans (73), soybeans (84), rice (83) and corn (76) are also good sources of protein. The general rule is: the station wagon makes the difference. After training, you should focus primarily on carbohydrates and proteins and not wait too long to eat. Typical post-workout meals: oatmeal with yoghurt and apple, salmon fillet with brown rice, rice with corn and beans, chicken breast with rice and scrambled eggs, potatoes with hummus…
And if you don't feel like cooking or come home late from training, you're well advised to try our Chipotle Chili : Organic beef and sweet potatoes ensure that your hard workout is worth it. And to the veggies among us: Our lentils à la Provence with 32 grams of protein will also help you get a little closer to your dream body.
So why shouldn't I skip a post-workout meal?
Your body is put under a lot of strain during training. In order for you to achieve your training line, regardless of whether it is losing weight, building muscles or defining muscles, it is important that your body has sufficient nutrients available from which it can draw energy for regeneration. As we have already written, eating after exercise can take many different forms. If the diet is properly adapted to your training goal, such as building muscle or losing weight, your body can optimally devote itself to regeneration. Eating the right foods can also help you lose weight. Always remember - no eating after exercise is the wrong approach!